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Cisco’s mobile unit picks Bay State

New HQ will have about 200 jobs

By D.C. Denison
Globe Staff / June 11, 2010

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John Chambers, chief executive of the data networking company Cisco Systems Inc., is expected to reveal today that Cisco has chosen Massachusetts as the global headquarters for its new Mobile Internet Technology Group.

The unit, which develops technology to improve the performance of mobile networks, will be based at the company’s campus in Boxborough. The decision is an outgrowth of Cisco’s $2.9 billion acquisition last year of a Tewksbury mobile data network company, Starent Networks Corp.

Cisco, headquartered in San Jose, Calif., has 2,000 employees in Massachusetts; the group will be based on the technology acquired from Starent. Cisco’s mobile unit will employ about 200 people, including 18 or 19 new jobs.

Chambers is in Boston today because he is the keynote speaker at the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston.

“Starent was able to develop a critical mass of expertise around the Internet and mobile communication technology,’’ said Ash Dahod, who will lead the Mobile Internet Technology Group. “Cisco decided it was important to keep that team together and build on it.’’

Cisco is creating the group, Dahod said, to stay ahead of the rapid growth of mobile Internet traffic, which the company expects to double annually through 2014. Dahod pointed to Apple’s recent unveiling of its latest iPhone as an indicator of capabilities to come.

One of the new iPhone’s features is real-time video chatting and video conferencing. “That will take a lot of expertise to process and manage,’’ he said. “That’s the kind of technology we will be developing, for all mobile devices.’’

Cisco, best known for its routers and switches — the “plumbing of the Internet’’ — has been expanding aggressively into teleconferencing and mobile technology as more Internet traffic moves from desktop computers to mobile devices. Competitors include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Nokia Siemens Networks.

“The future is any screen, anywhere, any network,’’ Dahod said. “That means that mobile providers will have to route and manage traffic based on who you are, what you’re doing, and where you are. That’s what we’ll be working on in Boxborough.’’

D.C. Denison can be reached at denison@globe.com.